Menu
Lifestyle

Can diesel's reputation recover from VW saga?

Continental's clean diesel Golf.
Continental's clean diesel Golf.

DIESEL'S dirty reputation, which is costing sales, can be cleaned up. But will help arrive in time? "That's a very good question,” says Jose Avila of German car component giant Continental.

The company heavily modified a VW Golf diesel to show that detox is feasible. Continental's choice of car makes sense. The discovery of emissions-cheating software in VW by US researchers started the Dieselgate stink in September 2015.

Diesel is declining in popularity in Australia. To the end of June, diesel SUV sales to private buyers fell by 3700, or almost 10 per cent - and sales of diesel cars to private buyers were even worse, falling by more than 23 per cent in the same period.

Diesel cars don't sell nearly as well as diesel SUVs, so the number of lost diesel sales in this case is much smaller.

Avila believes a comeback with the consumer is possible. "It is hard to advertise or push the diesel when there is still some clean-up to do, literally,” says the engines and transmissions boss. "(By 2019) there's going to be a lot more promotion for the diesel, demonstrating you can clean it.”

Avila thinks it's too early to tell whether the erosion of diesel's market share is unstoppable. The lower CO2 emissions of diesel vehicles compared to petrol-burners remains a strong point so "it should allow for a comeback or at least a stabilisation of the market share”.

The diesel engine's problem has never been CO2. Its lower fuel consumption means lower emissions of this major greenhouse gas.

Instead the problem is NOx (oxides of nitrogen), the health-harming pollutant emitted in much smaller quantities than CO2. Dieselgate was sparked by the discovery of real-world NOx emissions far above the legal limits.

Continental's modified VW Golf was fitted with RDE (Real Driving Emissions) equipment - a miniaturised emissions testing rig that can be bolted to a car's towbar for accurate measurement of its emissions.

By 2020 the European Union will phase in RDE testing as an extra requirement, above and beyond current emissions-lab tests, and car brands will have to pass RDE tests to get the type approval that shows their products meet the legal requirements to be sold.

The modified Golf is easily able to deliver NOx emissions well below the legal limit in normal conditions. At the end of my test drive at Continental's proving ground in Germany, including stops and starts, the RDE readout screen in the car showed NOx emissions a little above half the European legal limit.

Clean diesels can be made but they won't be cheap. Continental engineers used existing technology - 48V micro-hybrid set-up, electrically heated exhaust catalyst and high-pressure fuel injection to produce a squeaky clean result but extra tech means extra costs.

Topics:  car advice diesel diesel emissions dieselgate motoring volkswagen vw vw golf



Environment groups walk away from NSW forestry negotiations

LOGGING LOGGERHEAD: Peace between environment groups and the NSW Government is threatened.

Agreements between government and environmentalists threatened

Regions declared big winners in SCU funding deal

ALL SMILES: Professor Shoemaker is thrilled by the deal struck with the Federal Government.

Funding deal puts Allied Health campus in Coffs back on track

Swimmer missing at Valla while others rescued along Coast

An IRB is searching the waters at Valla Beach for a missing swimmer.

Search for missing man caught in Valla rip will start again at 6am.

Local Partners

Cost of having children soaring sky high

PARENTS-TO-BE have been warned that it’s now more expensive than ever to bring a child into the world, and competition among parents is driving up the price.

These are the sex capitals of Australia

Sex is in demand.

Data reveals surprise Australian suburbs where people want sex the most

Aussie couple road tests hotels by having sex in them

Justin and Jess have revealed their steamy hotel experiences.

They won a comp to share stories of getting lucky in hotel rooms

‘I have slept with 100 people’

The documentary is one person’s quest to track down their 100 past sexual encounters

Documentary counts down one person’s full list of sexual encounters

Pregnant Erin Molan hospitalised

Erin Molan has been announced as the new host of the Footy Show. Picture: Jonathan Ng

She collapsed, hitting her head on the ground

Botched jump led to years of hell

Hilary Judith nearly died in a skydiving accident. But that was only the start of the trauma.

Her body was reliving the accident, over and over again